South Shields’ MP’s touching tribute to murdered Jo Cox

Jo Cox
Jo Cox

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has paid tribute to her friend Jo Cox after her killer was handed an indefinite life sentence.

A jury at the Old Bailey took less than two hours to find Thomas Mair guilty of killing the 41-year-old mother of two as she arrived for a surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire.

Emma Lewell-Buck.

Emma Lewell-Buck.

Mair, 53, shouted “Britain first” as he fired three shots at Remain campaigner Mrs Cox and stabbed her 15 times on the afternoon of June 16, just a week before the EU referendum.

Emma Lewell-Buck today shared her memories of her friend: “Jo’s life and work impacted positively on so many in the world,” she said.

“Her family, closest friends and colleagues have shown such dignity and strength and my thoughts are with them.

“I miss her big smile, kind nature and the pragmatic, determined way she always pushed for a better world.”

Jo’s life and work impacted positively on so many in the world.

Emma Lewell-Buck

The trial had heard how even as she lay mortally wounded in the street, the MP for Batley and Spen tried to protect her aides by urging them to leave her and save themselves.

Caseworker Sandra Major told jurors: “He was making motions towards us with the knife and Jo was lying in the road and she shouted out ‘get away, get away you two. Let him hurt me. Don’t let him hurt you’.”

Following the conviction, her widower Brendan Cox told the packed Old Bailey courtroom: “We are not here to plead for retribution.

“We feel nothing but pity for him that his life was so devoid of love and filled with hatred, his only way of finding meaning was to attack a woman who represented all that was good about the country in an act of supreme cowardice.

Brendan Cox, widower of Jo Cox, speaking outside the Old Bailey in London after Thomas Mair was found guilty

Brendan Cox, widower of Jo Cox, speaking outside the Old Bailey in London after Thomas Mair was found guilty

“The killing of Jo was in my view a political act, an act of terrorism.”

But he said it had been a “most incompetent and self-defeating” act, as it had led to communities pulling together and “allowed millions to hear a voice instead of silencing a voice”.

Bernard Kenny, 78, who was stabbed as he tried to halt the onslaught by jumping on Mair’s shoulders from behind, described Mair’s actions as a “pure act of evil”.

Mair was brought before Westminster magistrates under the terrorism protocol two days after the killing.

Thomas Mair

Thomas Mair

When asked to confirm his name, he said: “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”.

He refused to answer to the charges against him and not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf to murder, grievous bodily harm to Mr Kenny and possession of a gun and dagger.

Having opted not to give evidence or put forward any defence, he was found guilty.